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tv   Wolf  CNN  August 22, 2018 10:00am-11:00am PDT

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say the least. thanks for joining us on "inside politics." back here this time tomorrow. won't be me. but please come right back. nia-malika henderson here tomorrow. "wolf" starts right now. have a great day. ♪ hello. i'm wolf blitzer. 1:00 p.m. in washington. wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us. the stunning turn of events putting the trump presidency at a crossroads as michael cohen implicates the president in hush money schemes. questions grow over whether a sitting president can be indicted. plus, the president responds praising convicted felon paul manafort for, quote, not breaking like michael cohen. did president trump just open the door to a pardon? and the deafeni ining silence f capitol hill. so many republicans refusing to comment as talks of impeachment
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become a reality among democrats. up first, a tale of two felons. president trump praises paul manafort, his former campaign chairman, now convicted on eight federal counts of tax and bank fraud. the president tweeted this, i feel very badly for paul manafort and his wonderful family. justice, and he puts the word justice in quotes took a 12-year-old tax case among other things applied tremendous pressure on him and unlike michael cohen, he refused to break. make up stories in order to get a deal. such respect for a brave man. the president took another swipe at michael cohen, his former lawyer and personal fixer for more than a decade who pleaded guilty to eight charges and implicated the president of the united states in a hush money scheme. the president tweeted this. quote, if anyone is looking for a good lawyer, i would strongly suggest that you don't retain the services of michael cohen." let's bring in our white house
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correspondent abby phillip. is this part the president's plan to discredit michael cohen and possibly set the stage for pardoning paul manafort? >> absolutely, wolf. the president's allies and the president himself engaged in what can only be an effort to discredit michael cohen and to call him a liar who simply can't be trusted. you saw a preview of that message from president trump this morning on twitter. he accused michael cohen of breaking but said that he -- implied he was a bad lawyer. implying also that anything that michael cohen might have offered up in exchange for his plea deal could not be relied on. however, it's clear that this is not going to be a case of michael cohen's word against the president's. there would also have to be proof. that's something that the president did not discuss at all in his morning tweet about cohen. >> what's the mood over there inside the white house right now? how did staffers react when this really significant, historic news broke about manafort and cohen? >> that's right, wolf.
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double barreled bad news day for the white house yesterday. left so many white house staffers simply stunned by these developments. earlier in the day, when these aides saw that the jury came back with a question about one count, about not being able to reach a conclusion on one count, sources say they were pretty buoyed by that. they thought this would be good news. clearly that jury came back with eight guilty convictions for manafort. then later the cohen news, according to this source, really completely blindsided them. they were not expecting that in the slightest. of course, president trump, according to another source, was even surprised to find that he was directly implicated in michael cohen's guilty plea, really raising the stakes for the president in a case, that michael cohen case that we know he's been extremely worried about for many, many months now. this is a case that could touch on his businesses, his family and also his presidency, wolf. >> good reason for him to be deeply concerned right now. abby phillip over at the white
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house, thank you. republicans, meanwhile, in congress for the most part, they failed to act as a check on president trump, but will these guilty verdicts, plea and guilty plea serve as a moment of reckoning for a party hoping to stay in control in november? at the same time, can democrats use this to their advantage to try to stall brett kavanaugh's nomination for the united states supreme court. let's go to our congressional correspondent phil mattingly. he's up on capitol hill. what are you hearing from both sides, phil? >> as you would expect, republicans not rushing out to talk about this. and those who are, certainly not willing to do so in a critical way. look at where republican leaders are. i ran into mitch mcconnell earlier today. he chose not to respond when i asked him about this. speaker paul ryan said they need more information. scra john cornyn said while this was serious, this had nothing to do with russia. also orrin hatch saying there are issues here, but we're not really sure what else we can do. take a listen.
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>> they can't be ignored. >> high crimes and misdemeanors? >> i wouldn't go that far. >> do you think this opens up the president to being indicted while sitting in office? >> no, i don't because i don't think he can be indicted while sitting in office. we'll just have to see where this all works out. >> wolf, it's somewhat of a familiar refrain up here where something happens at the white house. some republicans have concerns. others don't want to weigh in on it at all. behind the scenes, aides make clear how serious this is. they just aren't sure what their bosses should do about it. on the democratic side, you've seen democrats led by chuck schumer coalesce around a single strategy. take a listen. >> the president identified as an unindicted co-conspirator of a federal crime, an accusation made not by a political enemy but by the closest of his own confidantes is on the verge of
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making a lifetime appointment to the supreme court, a court that may some day soon determine the extent of the president's legal jeopar jeopardy. in my view, the senate judiciary committee should immediately pause the consideration of the kavanaugh nomination. >> senator schumer referring to brets c brett kavanaugh, the president's supreme court nominee. when you've heard from democrat after democrat this morning, it's not impeachment. many of them don't want to touch the issue at all. it's all about that nomination saying as long as this is an issue hanging out there those issues should be postponed. a member of the judiciary committee has canceled her one on one meeting with kavanaugh. the reality is republicans control the chamber. republicans have the votes if they are unanimous to move this nomination through. right now democrats hoping this issue helps their push, not just to block the nomination on the floor but to pause the hearings
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altogether, wolf. >> i'll be speaking live with senator harona later this hour. phil mattingly up on capitol hill, thanks very much. michael cohen is willing to testify before congress about president trump, and willing to testify without immunity. that according to his lawyer lanny davis. davis also says cohen has information of interest to the special counsel robert mueller. in interviews with cnn, davis expanded on what cohen has to offer and why cohen turned on the man he once said he'd take a bullet for. >> his patriotism and love of country caused him to recognize the danger of this particular president, his lack of suitability to be president of the united states. it's my observation that mr. cohen has knowledge that would be of interest to this special counsel about the issue of whether donald trump, ahead of time, knew about the hacking of
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e-mails, which is a computer crime that was the subject of the indictment of the 12 russians. >> let's discuss this and more with our experts. cnn political analyst molly ball, ross garber and carrie cordero. do you think michael cohen has enough information that would be worthwhile to robert mueller, the special counsel, to go ahead and bring him in for questioning and maybe work out some sort of deal with him? >> well, that's the big question. what information of value does michael cohen have? i have tended to think over the last few weeks as his public messaging continued to go along the same lines as lanny davis just said. that michael cohen has information to tell. i've tended to think if he really had information that the investigators needed, that they would have already been talking to him. and so i'm inclined to think the investigators may not need michael cohen as much as michael
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cohen needs a deal to lessen his jailtime sentence when he comes up for sentencing. >> he can get five years in december. that's when he's scheduled to be sentenced. >> according to his current plea, he could get five years. so i think it's in his interest and that's why we're seeing his lawyer out front arguing that he has information of value. but all of this time, the special counsel investigators could have been talking to michael cohen and if they haven't, then i'm inclined to think that maybe they don't need him as much as he might need them. >> you saw those tweets posted this morning. paul manafort, now a convicted felon stealing millions of dollars from american taxpayers in these various schemes. he calls him a brave man who refused to break and make up stories to get a deal. and he contrasted that with michael cohen. so you think the president is setting the stage for a pardon for paul manafort? >> it seems hard to read it otherwise. that's the message. the message is, hang in there, buddy. hang tough.
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it's going to be okay. the extraordinary thing to me is that it was communicated in public over twitter. you can potentially seeing something like that communicated with wicnks and nods through intermediaries. it's hard to read that any other way than, look, if you hang in there, there's a pardon waiting for you. >> it was not that long ago, sheriff arpaio in arizona was found guilty of criminal contempt on july 31st, 2017. within a month, august 25th, 2017, the president issued a pardon for sheriff arpaio, even though his scheduling hadn't been scheduled until october 5th of 2017. could you see a similar kind of scenario unfold now? >> i really think the only questions now are, number one, when will the pardon happen? and i think there are lots of reasons that it should happen sooner rather than later if you're donald trump. who else gets pardoned? michael cohen and others?
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and i think those are really the big issues right now. >> here's the one problem. i'll get to you, molly. the one problem if he issues a pardon, he could be subpoenaed -- we're talking about paul manafort -- testify before congress. he condition no longer plead the fifth if he has a pardon from the president of the united states? >> maybe, maybe not. some of them were tax fraud charges which may expose him to consequences -- criminal consequences in state court. and so his equivalent to the fifth amendment right is available in that context. and it's very rare for a judge to say, no, you can't invoke the fifth. you have to testify. i think as a practical matter he probably still could decline to testify. >> molly, how do you see this unfolding? >> with all due respect, there's a way to read it that is not just as a signal that trump is going to pardon cohen. if he did intend to pardon him -- >> sorry, to pardon manafort.
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he's had a lot time of when he could have done that and hasn't seen fit to do it. and his insistent all along, including after the verdict, this case has nothing to do with me. this is stuff manafort did long before i ever knew him. and, you know, there is a point to him announcing this in public on twitter rather than simply sending a private message. he is speaking to the public. he is speaking to his base and his supporters and to republicans. he is sending a message about the whole narrative he's been shaping of this investigation. the narrative of the witch hunt. the narrative of loyalty and disloyalty. these characters that he's created in the public imagination to say, here is a good man who has been loyal to me. here's a bad man who is not loyal to me and we can't trust him. he's continuing his ongoing campaign to discredit anything that michael cohen says by creating this contrast with the character of manafort. >> i agree. i think the fact it's happening in public and that we all get to see it is -- you are exactly right. it's still fascinating and extraordinary. >> some have suggested, carrie,
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if he were to issue a pardon for manafort that could be seen as obstruction of justice. do you believe that? >> whether or not it could be obstruction, i think is an open question. i tend to think that his language that he's using for manafort really does track the language that he has used to exercise his pardon authority already. if he pardons manafort, one way that it could be interpreted as part of the obstruction chain is that -- does that then signal to other individuals wrapped up in the broader russia investigation that pardons are going to be handed out. that anybody he deems in his own personal capacity to be treated fairly or he thinks the person is a good person or whatever it is that donald trump has a problem with law enforcement because -- and the justice system because, remember, a jury of peers, an actual federal jury found paul manafort guilty. it wasn't -- it's not that he's been charged at this point.
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he's been found guilty by a jury after a trial. that's the way our justice systems work. so the question really, for congress, from a political perspective is, how far are they willing to watch the president use his pardon authority before they observe that it is not just an exercise of that authority but an abuse of his constitutional authority. >> and the problem the president might have and i'm anxious, ross, to get your thoughts is that paul manafort now over a period of -- he's been convicted. eight counts. over a period of many years was cheating taxpayers, refusing to pay taxes he was supposed to be paying. and the president calls him a fine person, a decent guy, a wonderful guy and all of this. somebody who was betraying the country for so many years, why would the president be praising him along these lines? >> well, he seems to have great affection for paul manafort. he may honestly believe that manafort was treated unfairly. but for his association,
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manafort's association with the president, the odds were good manafort would not have been prosecuted and tried and convicted. >> we wouldn't have known about his crimes. >> exactly. >> now that we know about his crimes, the president is still praising him. >> and still praising him and the president might also think it was unfair that he was jailed pretrial. so the president may actually believe that paul manafort was treated and has been treated unfairly. >> we've got a lot more to discuss, guys. thank you very, very much. everyone stand by. all eyes now on house republicans, how they'll handle this news. i'll speak live with one of them who also happens to be a key member of the house intelligence committee. plus, the sheer number of people in the president's orbit who are now convicted criminals or in serious legal trouble. that number is growing. we'll break it down for you. one democratic senator is standing by to join us live after she just cancelled her meeting with the u.s. supreme court nominee brett kavanaugh suns the president is, what she
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calls, an unindicted co-conspirator. stay with us. this is cnn's special coverage. -omar, look. [ thunder rumbles ] omar, check this out. uh, yeah, i was calling to see if you do laser hair removal. for men. notice that my hips are off the ground. [ engine revving ] and then, i'm gonna pike my hips back into downward dog. [ rhythmic tapping ] hey, the rain stopped. -a bad day on the road still beats a good one off it.
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january 12th, 2018. "the wall street journal" reports michael cohen arranged a $130,000 payment to adult film star stormy daniels just one month before the 2016 election to keep her from going public about an alleged affair with mr. trump. in a statement, cohen called the allegation about the affair outlandish. then, on february 13th, cohen told "the new york times" he used his own personal funds to pay off daniels saying neither the trump organization nor the trump campaign was a party to the transaction and neither reimbursed me for the payment. on march 5th, "the wall street journal" reported cohen wired the money to daniels' lawyer just 12 days before the election. cohen responded with a two-word e-mail statement, fake news. two days later, the white house weighed in. >> i've had conversations with the president about this. there was no knowledge of any payments from the president, and he's denied all of these
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allegations. >> on april 5th, president trump broke his silence on the stormy daniels payments, denying involvement. >> did you know about the $130,000 payment to stormy daniels? >> no, no. >> why did michael cohen make this if there was no truth? >> michael is my attorney and you'll have to ask michael. >> a few days later he acknowledged michael did represent him in the deal with daniels. >> he represents me like with this crazy stormy daniels deal, he represented me, and, you know, from what i see, he did absolutely nothing wrong. there were no campaign funds going into this. >> why is he pleading the fifth? >> on may 2nd, rudy giuliani took it one step further. >> no campaign finance violation. so they funneled it through a law firm. >> funneled it through a law firm and the president repaid it. but he did know about the
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general arrangement that michael would take care of things like this. >> the following morning, mr. trump added that cohen received a monthly retainer. then on july 24th, cohen's lawyer released a secret recording between cohen and mr. trump discussing the logistics of another payment. this time to former playboy model karen mcdougal. >> when it comes time for the financing, which will be -- >> what financing? >> i have to pay -- >> cash. >> no, no, no. >> on august 21st, cohen officially flipped on his former boss and plead guilty to campaign finance charges stemming from those payments to stormy daniels and karen mcdoug ap. he also told the federal judge the mcdougal payment was for the principal purpose of influencing the election. we should note that president trump denies these affairs with these two women. joining us now, utah congressman chris stewart, a republican. a key member of the house intelligence committee. very nice of you, congressman,
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to join us today. so many of your republican colleagues are sort of run away from tv cameras right now. but thanks so much for joining us. i want to get your reaction clearly to michael cohen, the president's longtime personal attorney and fixer. what he told this federal court yesterday about the president's direct coordination, direction in these payoffs to these two women. >> well, wolf, it's a mess. and, look, i honestly don't know what to believe at this point. mr. cohen has been very inconsistent. the president hasn't been terribly consistent in things that he has said. it's going to take a little while for us to really understand what really happened here. i do want to say this, though. >> go ahead. >> and that is that, well, there's this allegation or this pleading that he made these payments. and that would only be legally effective if it was an illegal
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campaign contribution of some kind. and fec law is a click margin -- it's very complicated, but i talked with an fec attorney and he said i don't think that would be illegal. there are others who clearly think it would be. i'm interested to hear what the fec has to say. >> would it be illegal if you're running for the u.s. house of representatives and gave someone else money to pay off, only days before an election, these kinds of allegations from emerging? would that be illegal? >> well, i mean, if i use my campaign founds, it clearly would be illegal. if i use my personal funds, i don't know that it would be. i'm not trying to defer or protect. i genuinely don't know. >> if that money was being used as an in-kind campaign contribution, the money that you are giving someone else being used as an in-kind campaign
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contribution, and it isn't disclosed to the fec as an in-kind campaign contribution, wouldn't that be illegal? >> i honestly don't know that. and john edwards was tried on something very similar. he was not convicted on that. i think it's -- >> john edwards? >> yes. it's a very niche area of law, and not much expertise in this. but if i could draw one other comparison, if i could. i know, wolf, you may not agree with this. but i think it's fair to do this. and that is the american people hope that, two things. one is that no one is above the law. mr. manafort, though he was a friend of the prrkesident, he should be held accountable. i hope the president doesn't pardon him. but it would be a terrible mistake just to pardon someone because they were a friend of the president. the american people want everyone to be treated the same. they don't want anyone to be above the law. but i think you could ask the question, was it illegal for the hillary clinton campaign to hire
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fusion gps and foreign agents to dig up dirt on mr. trump? i mean, this is an area that, again, i don't know we know the answers to these questions. they are something we'll have to look at and see what the fec has to say. >> we know the justice department spent more than a year looking into all of these allegations against hillary clinton. we know what the result of those allegations were, what they concluded at the time. but let me basically get your thoughts on this. it's a very sensitive issue right now. and i want to be precise. are you saying you would be upset, you'd be disappointed if the president were to issue a pardon for paul manafort who was convicted yesterday on these eight counts of tax fraud and bank fraud? >> oh, absolutely. absolutely, i would be upset by that and offended by that. why should he be issued a pardon for something that had nothing at all to do with mr. trump. these were transgressions that took place years before he was
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working as his campaign chief. he should be held accountable for that. and for the president to pardon him, and by the way, i want to say, i have no indication at all that he's considering that. i don't know that anyone has suggested that. anyone close to the president certainly hasn't. i am just speculating that if he were, that would be a terrible mistake. no reason to pardon him just because he's a friend of the president's. >> i saw his tweets this morning about paul manafort. he said i feel very badly for paul manafort and his wonderful family. and justice took a 12-year-old case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and unlike michael cohen, he refused to break, make up stories in order to make a deal. such respect for a brave man. the president is praising someone who has just been convicted by a jury of his peers of stealing millions of dollars from american taxpayers. is that appropriate? >> well, look, i think the president considers paul manafort a friend. they worked together. if you have a friend or
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associate, a family member, someone that you have liked or had a relationship with and they're going to prison, i can understand why the president feels badly for him. but i don't consider mr. manafort a brave man. i don't consider him someone i would hold up in high esteem. look, he broke the law. he should be held accountable for that, just like anyone else should be. >> in the aftermath of these convictions, the plea deal and everything else we've learned over these past several weeks and months, do you think it's appropriate for your committee, the house intelligence committee, to reopen your investigation and, for example, re-interview michael cohen? his lawyer says he's willing to come back without immunity and testify in open session. would that be appropriate to do that with the house intelligence committee? >> you know, wolf, as you and i have talked about many times. the house intel committee's focus is on counterintelligence, protecting national security.
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when there are allegations of collusion between the trump campaign or others and russia, that's clearly falls under our purview and area of responsibility. this is something quite different. this is fec law. this is, you know -- >> well, let me rephrase the question. would it be appropriate for another committee in the house of representatives, the oversight committee, judiciary committee, for example, to take a close look at what has just happened? >> well, and that was the point i was about to make. not under intel committee but under judiciary or as you said perhaps government oversight. i think, though, the more effective way to oversee this and prosecute that is through the courts, through the southern court in new york city, as it has been placed. they are the ones who have the investigators, the expertise. it really is a court proceeding, not so much a political proceeding, which it would become if any one of the committees were to take and reopen this. would they have a responsibility for oversight? they have a responsibility to ask these questions. if they feel that's necessary, i
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wouldn't object to that. but i don't think it should supplant the judicial process. >> we know there was a judicial process under way during watergate and the nixon impeachment process, yet the house judiciary committee, they went full speed ahead and they opened up a full oversight committee hearing in that area when john dean, the white house counsel stood up and testified and said what he said about those secret tapes. we know what that eventually resulted in. and i want to pick up this conversation, congressman. i know you are going to stand by with me. we have a lot more to discuss, including michael cohen's bombshell sparking calls for president trump's impeachment. we'll discuss that among other issues. also, there's more breaking news. we're getting word right now that the democratic national committee headquarters right here in washington, d.c., has again been targeted in what's being called the sophisticated attempt to hack into voter database. issues, the details just coming in.
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then his former hhs secretary, tom price, scott pruitt from the epa, they've resigned under fire. what do you say to your colleagues, your friends, your constituents about the president's initial promise to surround himself only with the best people. >> well, i mean, that clearly hasn't happened. not in every instance. i think he does have some amazing people around him, some very capable people. especially his national security team. general mattis, mike pompeo, and so he has had a very good team in some cases. in some cases, he's clearly had people who have disappointed him. you have to differentiate degree and scale here as well. mr. manafort and mr. flynn under very different circumstances. the accusations against them are very different. general flynn served his country for many years. you know, the accusation about lying to the fbi is one incident with a very minimal potential jail sentence. that's very different from mr.
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manafort and mr. cohen. in fairness, it's important to draw that distinction between those two. >> all right. while i have you, i want to shift gears dramatically. you're just back from a visit to south korea where you have had a chance to assess what's going on with north korea, the aftermath of the president's meet wiing w the north korean leader. what's your bottom line assessment as you look back at where things are. >> the reason is, i'm encouraged. if you'd asked me a year ago, do i think there's any way kim jong-un is going to agree to denuclearization, i would have said no. no possible way we're going to convince him of that. and that wasn't just me. it was the cia analysts and others who shared that view. but i really think there's an opportunity now. last fall, military members there, and as you said, i was just back from the trip. spent a lot of time with cia and other agencies and military. they were actually preparing for the possibility of war some time this spring. and they feel now they've got a
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breath of relief. they feel there's an opportunity for diplomacy and for negotiations which we just didn't have before. and such a good thing for the people in korea. such good thing for the american people. it's not going to happen by the weekend. it's going to take years. just like our negotiations with russia took years and the s.a.l.t. and s.t.a.r.t. negotiations. we may be able to do something that just a year ago we thought impossible to do. >> the president keeps praising kim jong-un, saying he's ready for another summit with the north korean leader. we'll see if that happens. welcome back to the united states, congressman. thanks for joining us. as i said earlier, so many of your republican colleagues are reluctant to speak out on this day. you're a good man. appreciate it very much. >> thank you, sir. more breaking news we're following. getting president trump's first reaction to michael cohen's guilty plea and implicating the president in a new interview. stay with us.
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this is cnn breaking news. >> all right. breaking news. president trump now responding to the bombshell from his former fixer and attorney michael cohen. in a new fox news interview, the president was asked about cohen's testimony, his statements yesterday under oath before a federal judge that he directed that the president, mr. trump, directed him, coordinated with him to make hush money payments to two women who said they had an affair with mr.
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trump. here's what he said just moments ago. this is the president of the united states when asked about his knowledge of those payments. >> later on, i knew. later on. but you have to understand. what he did, and they weren't taken out of campaign finance. that's a big thing. that's a much bigger thing. did they come out of the campaign? they didn't come out of the campaign. they came from me. and i tweeted about it. i don't know if you know, but i tweeted about the payments. but they didn't come out of campaign. in fact, my first question when i heard about it was, did they come out of the campaign because that could be a little dicey. and they didn't come out of the campaign. and that's big. but they weren't -- that's not -- it's not even a campaign violation. if you look at president obama, he had a massive campaign violation. but he had a different attorney general. and they viewed it a lot differently. >> all right. let's assess what we just heard
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with our crime and justice reporter shimon prokupecz who is with us and our politics reporter and editor at large chris cillizza. what's your reaction? >> two things. first, donald trump saying he didn't know at the time runs directly counter to what michael cohen said in the plea agreement. mr. cohen said it was directed and coordinated with the president of the united states. >> this is what he told the federal judge in new york. he made these two payments to these two women, quote, in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office. and he then said it was designed to, quote, influence the election. >> okay. so you can say, well, it's a he said/he said. sort of. michael cohen is testifying under oath in that plea agreement and the southern district of new york, the prosecutors have to believe that he is testifying truthfully in order to say, okay, we'll give you a plea agreement. that's point one. point two, i don't know that
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donald trump understands what he's talking about as it relates to campaign finance law. sure, if it didn't come from the campaign, that's one thing. but even so it would mean that he was loaning money to michael cohen as sort of an in-kind contribution to his campaign. that would then have to be disclosed. put aside the fact that, according to cohen, this was all part of an attempt to influence the election by keeping these two women, stormy daniels and karen mcdougal, silent. he's not on solid legal ground here. i defoer to shimon. >> this is being done to influence the election. so what does it matter in terms of whether this was a personal, whether this came from the president personally or the campaign. they made it very clear. and michael cohen in court made it very clear. i was doing this to influence the 2016 campaign at the direction and the cooperation of donald trump. so, you know, i think this is going to probably be one of
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trump's perhaps arguments in all of this. he keeps changing the story as we know when he knew, what he knew about these payments. you know, and it's better off for him. he has to defend himself. but legally, when you think about it, he should let his lawyers deal with this. >> one other thing to add because in a tweet this morning and in that clip, he mentions the obama thing. barack obama campaign paid a massive fine. >> his campaign. >> now what was that in regards to? it was in regards to, basically in the last, i think it's -- in the last 2 1/2, 3 weeks of a campaign of a primary or general, legeneral election you have to report contributions you get in the last 48 hours. it's so that it's not backlogged in the last months of the campaign. that's what he was fined for. not adequately filing those 48-hour reports in detail. that's a very different thing than directly coordinate --
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again, testimony under oath, coordinating and directly sort of advising him, michael cohen, to use money to silence two women making allegations about the president of the united states. and let's remember, stormy daniels it was 11 days before the election that michael cohen had a shell company pay him. >> i'll never forget the payment was $130,000 to stormy daniels. $150,000 to karen mcdougal. >> you have to assume here because prosecutors have been working this investigation for quite some time that there's other evidence here. this isn't just the word of michael cohen. they're not going to just do that in this situation. so there's got -- they have text messages, there are phone calls they know of, e-mails. remember they did the search warrant. they have all this information, thousands of documents and text messages. so it's a problem, i think. for the president to say, you know, he's just kind of picking and trying to figure out exactly how he can perhaps maybe explain all of this. i don't know. the bottom line is we know what the prosecutors here have said.
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watergate. and basically that's what's out there. michael cohen did this under oath in open court, and it seems, i think the president obviously realizes that this is a problem for him. his people certainly realize it is a problem for them, and they need an explanation for this. >> to be clear, what he is offering in that interview and in the tweets is in no way well, 50% of people say this and 50% say this. we're talking about results of an extensive investigation. we're talking about seizure of home, hotel, and office, document after document, e-mails, texts. donald trump can tell a fox news source or tweet out something and make it apples and not even orange, apples to a car about barack obama, but that doesn't change the fundamental facts that we know according to sdny and michael cohen. >> and on almost every occasion goes after the attorney general
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of the united states and the justice department of the united states. even though he says you've got to support law enforcement down the road, clearly he's got issues with the attorney general, jeffrey toobi sessions. stick around, there's more news we're following. we'll take a quick break, we'll be right back.
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let's bring in democratic senator from hawaii, key member of the judiciary committee. thanks for joining us. let me get your reaction to the conviction of paul manafort on tax and bank fraud, and michael cohen pleading guilty to 8
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criminal counts, including campaign finance violations. what's your immediate reaction? >> my immediate reaction is that the mueller investigation must proceed and must be protected to its course. so what's happening is i think the walls are closing in on the president and he must be taking this whole situation as real now. he cannot continue to call it a witch hunt because there have been so many indictments already and his former campaign chair has been found guilty of 8 counts, his former fixer has pled guilty to 8 counts, implicating the president who is now an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal matter. >> as a result of this, you announced dramatically today you're actually cancelling your scheduled meeting with the u.s. supreme court nominee brett kavanaugh. tell us why. >> the president is an unindicted co-conspirator and i do not owe this president the courtesy to meet with his nominee, brett kavanaugh, who by
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the way is being nominated because the president expects justice cavanaugh should he make it to the supreme court to protect the president. >> your colleague on the committee, richard blumenthal is calling for delay in the scheduled hearings, supposed to start september 4th for brett kavanaugh. is that realistic? you're the minority, republicans are the majority. >> from the beginning we democrats have called for delay in terms of the hearing and we said what's good for the goose is good for the gander, whatever the saying is becau, mitch mcco held that seat for a year, we are asking for delay until this election so the american people can weigh in. we called for delay. even more so now with what's
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transpired, we think it is important for us to get all of the documents we need and what is the all fire rush to get the person on the supreme court. i think the rush is, the president wants somebody on the court who will protect. >> let me move to what the president is strongly signaling, that he might be ready for a pardon for paul manafort convicted on 8 counts yesterday, what do you think reaction would be if he were to pardon manafort? >> i think the president has no concept of the limits to his power and yes, he does have discretion to pardon people, but in this case i think it would be all admission of guilty. conspiracy to effect the elections and conspire with russia. i think that's what it would
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telegraph to me. i hope that's what it would telegraph to the american people. >> finally, i want to switch gears. a category four is moving closer and closer to the hawaiian islands. first of all, is your state prepared? >> yes. there's already been a declaration of disaster. some schools have been closed, offices are closed, and i want to urge all of the people of hawaii to take care, and also let's be kind to each other. tempers flare at a time like this. one more thing regarding judge brett kavanaugh, he can make this claim to this nomination, make his case in open hearing under oath. i at this point will not be voting for him. >> let's see if he gets other democrats to vote for him. if any republicans vote against him. we'll see what unfolds in the coming weeks. senator hirono, thanks for being here.
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and good luck to the folks in hawaii as the hurricane moves closer. >> thank you very much for that. that's it for me. i will be back at 5:00 p.m. eastern in "the situation room." in the meantime, the news continues right now, right here on cnn. cnn breaking news. i am monica cabrera in for brooke baldwin. we begin with breaking news. president trump responding to his former lawyer, implicating him directly of campaign finance violations, michael cohen just pled guilty to 8 criminal counts, including campaign finance violations. in his plea hearing, cohen never said trump's name as the court transcript shows. instead cohen told the judge he worked in coordination with and at the direction of the candidate. when he arranged a couple of six figure payments to keep two